The year is 1999. The United Nations Scientific Committee has built an exploratory base on the moon. Another base is located on Ogasawara Island in the Pacific, near Japan. On the island base, the Earth's giant monsters - including Godzilla, Rodan, Anguirus, Mothra, and Gorosaurus -- have been corralled in an area called Monsterland. The monsters are kept under control by a series of perimeter barriers that do not allow them to leave the island. The monsters are monitored by a control center located underground.
Destroy All Monsters (1968)
Starring: Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, and Yukiko Kobayashi
The island base comes under attack and a cloud of gas overtakes both the crew of the control center and the monsters. When communication between the island and the moon is interrupted, the rocketship Moonlight SY3 is recalled from space to visit the island to check things out. The United Nations soon receives reports from across the globe that the giant monsters are attacking the major cities of the world. Rodan is destroying Moscow. Gorosaurus is knocking over the Arc de Triomphe Paris. Godzilla is blasting the United Nations building in New York.
When the Moonlight astronauts arrive at the island base, they find that the crew is acting strangely. They're now working for some strange new bosses: The Kilaaks, a race of aliens who claim to be from a small planet located between Mars and Jupiter. The astronauts attempt to rescue some of the island crew but succeed in only retrieving Dr. Otani (Yoshio Tsuchiya). A gunfight breaks out between the Kilaak-controlled crew and the astronauts. Dr. Otani is escorted off the island and taken back to Japan where he promptly throws himself out of a window. During his autopsy, a small receiver is found implanted behind his ear. It is through this receiver that he was controlled by the Kilaaks.
Soon, larger receivers are discovered hidden around the world. These larger receivers are used by the Kilaaks to control the monsters. However, the source of the signal is still a mystery. While the monsters were attacking the major cities as a diversion, the Kilaaks established a base near Mount Fuji, but its exact location is unclear. The Moonlight crew -- along with the Japanese Self Defense Force -- attempts to find the base but they meet heavy resistance in the form of Godzilla, Rodan, and Anguirus. However, the Moonlight crew sights a UFO and get a general idea where the base is located. A ground expedition finds a cave and, upon entering, is greeted by a broadcast from the Kilaak Queen who attempts to convince the humans that the Kilaaks are truly from space by showing her fleet of UFOs leaving the moon. The Moonlight crew returns to the moon in an effort to find the source of the signal that controls the monsters.
Once located, the humans destroy the transmitter and the United Nations regains control of the Earth's monsters. The monsters are directed to go to Mount Fuji to destroy the alien base. But the Kilaaks have another trick up their sleeve: King Ghidorah arrives from space to fight the Earth's monsters and defend the alien base. The result is a battle royale featuring Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, Kumonga, Gorosaurus, Anguirus, Minya, and King Ghidorah.
Destroy All Monsters was intended to be the final film in the Showa-era Godzilla series. Box office receipts from the previous two entries in the series, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla, had been lackluster at best. To make the final film memorable, the four men believed to be most responsible for the success of the earlier Godzilla films were brought back to the series: Ishiro Honda as director, Akira Ifukube as composer, Eiji Tsuburaya as special effects supervisor, and Tomoyuki Tanaka, as producer. The box office receipts for Destroy All Monsters were high enough to keep the series going for a few more years.
The movie itself, however, is only partially successful as an engaging kaiju flick. The monster action is relatively sparse. Nearly two-thirds of the movie is devoted to the humans' pursuit of the Kilaaks and their transmitter. The brief smattering of giant monster action that appears in the middle of the movie serves only keep the viewer awake during the endless scenes of the Moonlight rocket flying from place to place in search of the Kilaaks. The final battle between Godzilla and company and King Ghidorah is still impressive and makes up for the dead time in the middle of the movie.
It's great fun to see so many of Toho's monster stable participating in the movie. Unfortunately, due to the large number of monsters and the extremely human-oriented plot, many of the supposedly featured monsters receive a tiny amount of screen time. Some monsters, like Varan and Baragon, for example, are only seen in extremely small cameos rather than actually doing anything onscreen.
If you're an older kaiju fan, you'll probably have fond memories of this film from your childhood. I know I do. But, after seeing Destroy All Monsters again as an adult, it's sad to see that what I remember so fondly makes up such a small amount of the actual movie.
Trivia: This was Mothra's and Rodan's final regular appearance in a "Showa" era film. They later would return in the "Heisei" series but with their powers drastically altered. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)